The Ideas Of Good And Evil In Shakespeare's Macbeth

1348 Words 6 Pages
The ideas of good and evil, as defined by God and man, have always been closely deliberated by human culture. Men and women face choices between good and evil every day, and human responsibility, not the will of God, is to blame for many of the decisions made. In the Renaissance, man realized he could affect his own destiny, and make his own choices, and authors began to examine how humans justified making an evil choice and how they responded psychologically to choosing evil and making evil decisions. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Shakespeare explores these questions through the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who choose to commit murder to obtain the throne, and his tragedy follows their descent into darkness. The torture of previous …show more content…
Because Macbeth has prided himself on his nobility, the temptation and decision to commit evil and its aftermath devastate him. Due to the witches’ and his wife’s powerful subversive manipulation, Macbeth agrees to and executes an impulsive decision which he immediately regrets. First reacting to the prophecies of the three witches, Macbeth vows “If chance will have me king, why, chance may / crown me / Without my stir” (1.4.157-159). This exclamation represents how Macbeth values his virtuous and loyal qualities, which were apparent during the early battles of the play. His allegiance to Duncan overshadows any doubt or temptation that the witches may offer. However, Macbeth’s loyalty sways when his wife attempts to persuade him into acting upon the witches’ prophecy. After much deliberation, Macbeth is convinced, consenting “I am settled and bend up / Each …show more content…
Whereas she first believed that utilising any means necessary to ascend to the throne was acceptable, Lady Macbeth now comprehends the full extent of her malevolent acts. Her internal distaste for vile actions undertaken by the couple begins soon after Duncan’s death, as she exclaims to Macbeth: “Naught’s had, all’s spent, / Where our desire is got without content. / ’Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.” (2.1.6-9). Lady Macbeth understands that their actions have been outright villainous; actions that now have activated guilt from within. Her guilt, and the hindsight with which she observes her ill informed choices create a setting in which Lady Macbeth falls further and further away from the proud and decisive stance she had exuded before and after the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s self-confidence in the couple 's’ actions declines rapidly, to a point where she regrets ever feeling the allure of power. The full extent of her fall from grace is exhibited as she sleepwalks and utters “The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean? (5.1.44-45). Lady Macbeth obviously has realized the drastic extent of Macbeth’s subsequent actions. Her role in the murder of Duncan set into motion a series of brutal, vile, and malicious actions throughout the realm, the

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